Nonprofit day care says thieves stole kids’ basketball hoop

DENVER – A nonprofit day care in Montbello is trying to raise money for a new basketball hoop after they believe thieves stole the one they had.

Venture for Success Preparatory Learning Center in the far northeast corner of Denver is a little different that most day care centers.

“We’ve been here roughly around eight or nine years,” director Nathanial Cradle said. "And last year we actually became a nonprofit organization.”

The center serves about 40 children per day, and almost all of them come from low-income families.

“Roughly around 98 percent,” Cradle said.

The toys the children interact with at day care might be the only ones they play with all day. The day care also focuses on exercise, movement and getting fresh air in a safe environment.

“It’s just really important that children have a safe place to go to and a place that they feel accepted, wanted, loved and can flourish,” co-director Jacqueline Cradle said.

One of their daily activities, and a favorite among the students, is basketball. Not only do the children love it, but it also helps them work on hand-eye coordination and cognitive skills.

But when the children and the Cradles arrived at Venture for Success last week, they found a pile of rocks where their basketball hoop used to be.

The hoop is described as a full-size hoop with an adjustable height. It has a base that can be filled with rocks or water to stay put. The Cradles believe someone hopped over the fence and stole it.

“It’s frustrating. It’s disheartening,” Jaqueline Cradle said. “We assume it’s gone for good.”

Almost all of the toys the children have access to at the day care are donated, so the Cradles say replacing the hoop right away is going to be difficult.

“As many other nonprofits know, we work on what many would call a strict budget,” Nathaniel Cradle said.

They are asking the community for help raising money. To help, can send an email to tips@kdvr.com.

“It meant a lot to us, as small as it was,” Jacqueline Cradle said.